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Be a Green Homebuyer: Ask the Right Questions

By HomeCentrl on Mar 20, 2012
Green homes are not just a fashionable statement but an area that should be of concern to all. Given the amount of existing homes on the market presently, you may be considering purchasing a home versus building a new one. This can be a wise choice but knowing the right questions to ask is vital.

  • What is the R-value of the attic insulation? (The higher the R-value, the more insulated the home).
  • Is there any insulation in the walls? (Many old homes have NO wall insulation).
  • Are the windows double-paned? Are they low-e coated or Energy Star rated? (Poor quality windows could make up a third of your heating loss in the winter. The Energy Star rating will offer you a clear sign that your windows are highly-efficient for your region).
  • What is the U-factor of the windows? (The U-factor, listed on the National Fenestration Council label, reflects the insulation ability of the entire window, not just the glass. Look for a U-factor of 0.35 or lower. For homes with overheating problems or with high air conditioning bills, you should also look for a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of .35 or lower).
  • What is the SEER rating on the air conditioner? How old is it? (If the AC was well-sized for your prospective home, the higher the SEER, the more efficient.  The current standard is SEER-13 but many homes can - and should - have air conditioners with higher SEER ratings if they have extended annual cooling needs).
  • Has the home had an energy audit?  A HERS rating? (These can provide significant information on the energy efficiency of the home and how much it will cost to heat and cool the home during the year).
  • What are the utility bills? (If you think that spacious home is the perfect buy, be sure the energy bills don’t ruin your monthly budget!)

The great looking Victorian home that has a price tag that you can surely afford may not be all that great a deal in the long run. It's energy costs to heat and cool could be much higher than you had anticipated.

Buying a home can also be an emotional purchase as you have to love it from the start. Just make sure that before you sign on the dotted line you've asked all the right questions. 



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